January 14, 2017 (Saturday)

by Yule Heibel on January 13, 2018

No headache this morning, yay. It feels good to awaken without pain.

Yesterday afternoon, since I didn’t need to cook or anything, I took myself to A.café around four or just after, having packed noise-canceling earplugs, over-the-ear headphones, my iPad, a keyboard, a notebook, and the book by Elaine Scarry I’m reading. The plan was to stay for ~90 minutes or so until it was time to pick up W. and get some takeout. I settled in: earplugs, headphones with Focus@Will cranked way up, but still it was virtually impossible to block out the sheer racket which fills this café. It’s impossible: really loud music, really loud espresso machines, really loud staff yelling out orders. It’s not a general noise-buzz background; rather, it’s just noisy, and punctuated by frequent éclats of noisier noise, punctuation marks in a babble of sound created by an idiot.

In addition, as a lone occupant who intended to while away 90 minutes, I decided not to hog an entire booth and instead installed myself at one of the single tables. So then I realized almost immediately that the chair was relatively uncomfortable (I mean, it was okay, but not necessarily where you want to sit for a long time), and the table entirely too small for all the plans I had. I’d already moved once – from a very exposed table right by the door, where the cold was really noticeable – and didn’t want to pack up and move yet again, even though there now was available one of the single tables flanked by an upholstered banquette, which might have been both more comfortable as well as affording more space to spread out (things on banquette = better than things on floor, which was dirty). Consequently, I stayed put, I left all my gear in my bag (on the table) and concentrated solely on my book. I was able to read with concentration for some time, but I was pissed that I couldn’t take notes, which had been the point of bringing my iPad and keyboard. And I ended up scrunching myself in such a manner on that tiny café chair that I feel it in my muscles today. It was, in other words, a not-too-successful foray into “third place” working. But socializing in these places often isn’t much better: when I met B. at the [same] café on Monday, it was similarly stressful to have a conversation in such a noisy place. At least we were able to sit side-by-side at one of the large communal tables and didn’t have to yell across it to be heard by one another, nor continuously lean forward when speaking or listening, literally straining to hear. I should, perhaps, instead have driven to Cambridge to visit the HAM and see the Salcedo film, which played at 2pm, met W. for dinner after. Well, the café was worth a try, but somehow I don’t think it’s how I’ll spend my Friday afternoons going forward.

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